All infectious diseases require timely accurate diagnosis. HIV and AIDS is no exception. Timely diagnosis allows you to take the necessary therapeutic measures and extend the patient’s life. How to determine the presence or absence of the disease with maximum accuracy?
- It’s possible to determine the presence of HIV infection in the body only be examining the blood of a person;
- Each primary positive result is always checked by a more accurate method;
- Different tests have different “window period”;
- In colloquial language, this is called HIV testing. Usually, a blood sample is taken from a vein and sent for analysis to a special laboratory for studies. Since the initial positive result in individual isolated cases may turn out to be false-positive (for example, if a person has had an acute infectious disease, or simply because no test gives an answer with 100% accuracy), then each primary positive result is rechecked by a more accurate method in the reference laboratories;
- The testing procedure is quite simple. A specialist in an AIDS consulting room takes a blood sample, consulting takes about 20 minutes;
- On average, the test result is ready within 3 working days.
In addition to venous blood tests in the laboratory, HIV infection can be detected by taking a blood test from a finger. This is express testing. In this case, the answer can be found in a few minutes. Express testing means that the answer can be obtained almost immediately but not that you can immediately determine whether a person is infected or not.
The results of the express testing are as accurate as the results of blood tests from a vein. The main difference between express testing and the usual procedure is the “window period”, i.e. during such a period when the virus cannot be detected in the body. Since express testing “recognizes” only antibodies to HIV, and not the virus itself, at least 10-12 weeks must pass from the moment of infection.
What does an HIV test show?
An HIV test shows whether a person is infected or not. During testing, antibodies to HIV and/or the virus are sought in the blood. If HIV is present in the human body, its immune system begins to produce antibodies. Uninfected people do not have such antibodies. The only exception is HIV-negative newborns whose mothers are HIV-positive. In the body of infants under the age of 18 months, antibodies to HIV may persist, which have come to them from the mother through the placenta.
Antibodies to HIV occur in infected people throughout their lives. For accurate detection of antibodies, at least 4-6 weeks should pass from the moment of infection. This period is called the window period – i.e. the person is actually infected, but the test still does not confirm this.
Why it’s important to know the test results?
Many people do not want to take an HIV test or get an answer because they are afraid that they are infected. Denial of the problem is a human trait, but in this case, it is self-deception. A person who dares to take the test is responsible and manages his life. Accurate knowledge gives you a sense of confidence and control over your life and health. A person who admits that he has a reason to take the test and makes it respects himself and his loved ones.
Some more reasons why you need to pass the test:
- If you are not infected, then you will find out how you can never get infected;
- If you are infected, you will receive treatment that will provide years of normal life;
- Passing the test, you protect others from the infection;
- If you are an HIV-positive woman, then you will learn how to protect your future son or daughter from infection. Therefore, it is important to pass the test if you are expecting a child.
Who needs an HIV test?
Please pass the test:
- If you have had unprotected sex;
- If you have had multi-sex partners or if you have had unprotected sex with someone who has had many sexual partners;
- If you used syringes or needles that someone already used before you, or you had unprotected sex with a person who used syringes or needles that someone already used before him;
- If you had a blood transfusion before 1989;
- If you were injured while working or in case of an accident, you came into contact with the blood of another person;
- If you are expecting a baby;
- We strongly recommend that people who have sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B or C, or tuberculosis pass the test.
Please pass the test if you notice:
- Unreasonable big weight loss;
- Constant feeling of fatigue;
- Fever lasting several weeks;
- Night sweats;
- Dry cough, not caused by smoking, bronchitis or pneumonia;
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and/or groin.
Who is offered to pass HIV testing?
In the new HIV testing guide, the doctor is advised to offer (for both outpatient and inpatient medical services) HIV testing to the following persons in the following situations:
- donor blood and its products (test required);
- donors of cells, tissues and organs (test required);
- all pregnant women on the 30th week of pregnancy;
- all newborns of HIV-positive women (a newborn baby of an HIV-positive mother is tested for HIV using the PCR method;
- all people seeking an appointment with a doctor (gynecologist, urologist, family doctor) in case of suspicion of sexually transmitted infections (in accordance with the rules of treatment of sexually transmitted infections);
- all people who come to the pulmonary doctor for suspected tuberculosis (according to the instructions for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of tuberculosis treatment);
- all people sent to prison to serve their sentence;
- all patients of addiction treatment programs and rehabilitation programs;
- women who decide to terminate a pregnancy;
- all patients with indicator diseases.
Diseases for which HIV testing is indicated
HIV testing should be performed in the case of the following indicator diseases and conditions (except for children):
- tuberculosis (both lung and other organs);
- sexually transmitted diseases (including ureaplasmosis, mycoplasmosis, genital herpes, papilomovirus infection, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis);
- Kaposi’s sarcoma;
- cervical and anal cancer and precancerous conditions;
- herpes zoster in people younger than 65;
- infection of disseminated herpes simplex;
- acute or chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C;
- mononucleosis syndrome;
- leukopenia of unknown origin or thrombocytopenia of > 4 weeks duration;
- generalized seborrheic dermatitis/folliculitis;
- generalized fungal infections (including opportunistic fungal infections);
- pneumonia, repeated for one year (more than once a year).
In the case of chronic disease, the patient should be tested for diagnosis and then once a year.